Best Decision by Hosts Colin Jost and Michael Che: Yes, the all-star musical opening number should have been even funnier with the amount of talent onstage singing about TV having already solved its diversity problem: Kate McKinnon, Kenan Thompson, Kristen Bell, Tituss Burgess, Sterling K. Brown, Ricky Martin, Andy Samberg, RuPaul, and John Legend. But at least the “Weekend Update” co-hosts choosing to sit it out showed that they recognized their detached, deadpan delivery isn’t the energy you want to kick off a three-hour fete.
Worst Decision by Hosts Colin Jost and Michael Che: They kept cutting to Maya Rudolph and Fred Armisen for a recurring bit in which the SNL alums were ill-prepared to answer questions about the award show’s history. The show ended on time — despite not playing off any presenters, which is impressive — so perhaps they couldn’t afford to trim one of the flat segments and cut their losses? They would have had to ask presenter Will Ferrell to walk out even slower.
Best Standing Ovation: Just when you thought nothing could top the one Betty White received for being a 96-year-old living legend, or the one that greeted Barry’s Henry Winkler when he won his first Emmy award 42 years after his first nomination for Happy Days, Oscars director Glenn Weiss used his acceptance speech to propose to his girlfriend, Jan Svendsen. “You wonder why I don’t like to call you my girlfriend? Because I want to call you my wife,” Weiss proclaimed, after saying that his mother, who passed away just two weeks ago, told him to never let his sunshine go. Svendsen made her way to the stage, and as presenter Sterling K. Brown’s jaw dropped, he placed his mother’s ring on her finger. The Crown’s Claire Foy had to wipe a tear from her eye. She wasn’t the only one.
Best Reaction By a Presenter: Leslie Jones couldn’t have been happier to announce Regina King won her third Emmy, this time for Lead Actress in a Limited Series for Netflix’s Seven Seconds. King was shocked, but recovered nicely with a closing, “Thank you, Jesus” (giving a shout-out to Che, who said his mother doesn’t like to watch the Emmys because the white winners don’t do that enough).
Best Reaction By a Winner: Godless supporting actress Merritt Wever uttered a genuine "Oh f---" upon hearing her name announced, and looked appropriately mortified because she knew the camera would have captured it. You may recall her legendary 2013 acceptance speech for Nurse Jackie: "Thanks so much. Thank you so much. I gotta go. Bye." This speech was slightly longer. Westworld supporting actress Thandie Newton, however, managed to swear onstage: “I don’t even believe in God, but I’m gonna thank her tonight,” she said. “I am so blessed. I am so blessed. Without this I am even so f---in’ blessed.”
Best Thank You: Godless supporting actor Jeff Daniels looked more at home at the mic, and took the time to thank the judgmental horse he rode in the Netflix Western. Apparently Apollo bucked him off three times, breaking Daniels’ left wrist on the final fall. Holding up his Emmy with that hand, Daniels announced it’s officially healed.
Best Audience Reaction Shot: Given Chrissy Teigen’s history of having no poker face at awards shows, it was smart for the camera folks to pan to her during the opening monologue when Che praised Laurie Metcalf by saying, “You know how great an actress you’d have to be to get nominated for Roseanne now? That’s like nominating a cop for a BET Award. It doesn’t happen. It’d be weird.” However, props must be given to Atlanta nominee Brian Tyree Henry, who gave the cut sign to Jost’s most “Weekend Update”-worthy joke about TV balancing out all the upcoming diverse remakes with an all-white reboot of Atlanta called 15 Miles Outside of Atlanta, which will focus on white women who call the police on the cast of Atlanta.
Best Payoff: It’s a four-way tie between The Americans' Matthew Rhys scoring his first Emmy for the show's final season; RuPaul’s Drag Race finally winning Outstanding Reality Competition Program after RuPaul earned host honors for three years running; Che handing out the Reparation Emmys to black comic actors whose work was overlooked; and Hannah Gadsby, best known for her Netflix standup special Nanette, killing when she got to present the award for directing of a drama series solo. We can only hope Norm MacDonald was watching.
Worst Payoff: Teddy Perkins, the reclusive figure from the eponymous Atlanta episode, was spotted sitting in the audience. At first everyone at home assumed it was Donald Glover in disguise, but then Glover was seen on-camera as himself. Perhaps if Glover had won an award we would have found out.
Best Walk to the Stage: Alex Borstein took off her wrap before making her way up to accept the Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series trophy for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, complete with a shimmy. Perhaps we should have known the series was posed to have a big night because she was fully prepared with a tight, hilarious speech.
Worst Audience Behavior: The crowd seemed to grow bored with the string of wins for Mrs. Maisel, not because the series is undeserving but because it made the ceremony feel even more predictable than usual. Amy Sherman-Palladino had to run back onstage to accept the directing award after accepting the writing trophy (“My panic room’s gonna be so pretty,” she quipped), Rachel Brosnahan was crowned Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, and the series nabbed the top Comedy prize.